Over the past week and a half, we have had our first two home study visits with our agency social worker. The first visit took place in her home outside of Lexington, Kentucky. The second was a week later in our home. I think when people hear the words, “home study visit” they assume that a gruff stranger comes into your home and tells you all the things you have to change in order to adopt. I am so relieved that this was not the experience for us.
The first visit consisted of John and I explaining what brought us to this process and why we chose China, specifically. We had already collected much of the paperwork required for the home study, and brought all of that with us. Our social worker is a lovely lady about our age I would guess, with three adopted children of her own. We went over the paperwork we had, and made a list of the things we needed to do for the next time. It was pretty simple and really helped clarify where we were in the process and where we are headed. Since I do most of the paperwork, I found this meeting to be extremely beneficial.
The second visit was in our home, just a few days ago. She met with John first, and then me, and then spoke for a few minutes with both of the kids together. The “interview” time was very non-threatening and conversational, pausing only for her to jot down a few notes. The kids cooperated pretty well, as much as we could hear from the other room. Owen is very excited to get a baby sister from China, and Camden just wants to show everyone his cars and keep playing! The social worker went on a quick walk-through tour, lead by our excited children, and then she was on her way. The kids love showing everyone our house when guests come over, so that was probably their favorite part of the visit! We made plans to do our final visit on July 17th.
So where are we in the paperwork process now? We have given our social worker all the copies of our home study paperwork for her official report, which will be included in our dossier for China. We just sent off our I-800A (application for immigration) to CCAI’s office in Louisville. When the home study report is done (sometime after our July 17th visit), it will be sent as part of the dossier with the I-800A for Chinese approval.
Since John and I were born in Ohio, married in Pennsylvania, and now live in Kentucky, we are required to take a few extra steps because of our paperwork coming from various states. We are currently waiting on background checks from South Carolina (where we lived in 2005-2006), and John’s Pennsylvania background check. Once I receive my birth certificate from Ohio, I will send both of ours to the Ohio Secretary of State to be certified. When we order and receive our marriage license, it needs to go to the PA Secretary of State to be certified there. I had originals of those vital records, but the Chinese Consulate/Embassy wants them to be issued within six months of the time they receive them, so I have ordered new ones. I am working on getting our Kentucky documents certified by the county clerk, and then I will drive them to Frankfort, Kentucky for our Secretary of State’s certification. I hope to have all of these things done, or close to by our July 17th visit.
After the documents are certified on the local and state level, they will be sent via a courier to Washington, D.C. for approval by the Chinese Embassy before going to China as a dossier. And yes, all of this has been confusing at times, and seems never-ending. I am consistently impressed by our agency’s response to calls and questions we may have, and I am very confident that we are with a great organization.
I found this cartoon, and couldn’t help but laugh!
In the meantime, I have joined several Facebook groups advocating for Chinese waiting children. There have even been a few that tugged on my heart strings and I sent the information on to John to look as well. Last week, one little girl stood out to me among all the rest. I wanted to bring her home so badly. We even requested to look at her file. Unfortunately, she is listed with another agency right now, and the families with that agency have the first chance to choose her. Because of her age and needs, she will likely be adopted by someone else first. It is very difficult NOT to look at the waiting children out there, but until our dossier is complete, it is almost impossible to be matched outside our agency without starting over completely (and losing money in the process). So, we wait. We work on paperwork. We sign forms. We complete our visits. God’s got this. He is holding us. He is leading us every step of the way. And we are trusting and waiting on Him to carry us to our little girl.